Creating added value for companies, employees and customers

Agile transformation is not an end in itself. Its main purpose is to create added value for the company, its customers and its employees. A corporate vision can help drive and steer this change.

Think big: Why a vision is so important

Buzz words like digital or agile transformation are buzzing around in many heads. But why should companies deal with this and what does a shared vision have to do with this topic? The objective of both is to create added value for the company, the employees and the customers and to remain competitive in a world full of disruptions.

Advantages of a corporate vision

First, a brief clarification of terms: The vision describes a desirable state in the future to which employees can orient themselves. This so-called North Star shows where to a company would like to develop. At the same time, it serves as motivation and as a basis for decision-making for the entire organisation.

In its external presentation, the company distinguishes itself from its competitors through its vision of the future and can present how and for what it stands and works. However, it is crucial that the vision inspires and engages everyone. But how is it possible to develop such a rousing vision of the future for one’s own company or to sharpen an existing one?

Approach and methods

At the beginning, as with every process, there is an analysis of the current situation. In targeted interviews, employees at all levels have the opportunity to express their views. This approach offers the advantage that large parts of the staff are integrated and a more comprehensive picture of the company emerges.

In cross-hierarchical and -functional workshops, e.g. using the Walt Disney method, the six hats or the future workshop, the new image of the future can be developed together. The conscious use of creative methods opens up the space for new possibilities to leave the usual paths.

Because as Einstein already said:


“The definition of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. “

Vision and agile transformation

But what does a vision have to do with agile transformation? By comparing the current state with the vision, it becomes clear what the company can already achieve in terms of existing working models, processes and culture and where the gaps are.

It thus forms the basis for initial ideas to plan the necessary measures for the agile transformation. In addition, a common goal can help to ensure that staff and management accept and want to help shape the changes that every agile transformation brings with it.

Objective agile transformation

One of the primary goals of agile transformation is to make a company more resilient and competitive. This is achieved by simplifying processes and organisational structures in agile organisations, allowing the space for rapid decision-making within the framework of self-organisation.

This also requires a new form of leadership that promotes and demands a high degree of teamwork and self-organisation. What is needed here is not only situational leadership, but the strong leadership form of leadership in which the supervisor shadows, supports and coaches the team. This in turn leads to an increase in the level of innovation and employee engagement as well as responsiveness to changes in the market or in customer needs.

Of course, this contributes greatly to customer satisfaction and thus secures the future of the company. However, it is clear that such a far-reaching change as the agile transformation must be well planned and accompanied in order to empower both management and employees to shape it and drive it forward.

Image of the future as a positive driver

So a clear vision brings many benefits, both in general and in terms of agile transformation. The biggest one, however, is that the focus on a common goal that everyone wants to achieve together bundles a lot of positive energy and decisions are supported by everyone. In this way, every company takes an important step towards a future that enables long-term success.



Agile transformation in the banking environment

Agile transformation requires a high degree of willingness to change. Awakening this in all those involved is not easy, especially in the banking environment, and often requires external support.

Challenges and solutions

Change is difficult for most people. However, the hurdles are often particularly high in very traditional companies and in the banking environment, even though the knowledge that a change towards digitalisation and agility is inevitable has become established in this sector. However, there are a number of things to consider when introducing agile working.

Stakeholder analysis and hands-on training

The most important thing is to identify and meet all stakeholders in a first step, for example in the form of a stakeholder analysis. In this way, they can be convinced of the necessity and feasibility despite the many regulations that exist in a banking environment. Because the agile transformation can only succeed if there is a willingness to change at all levels. This is especially true for the management level, where, as in many industries, a classic understanding of leadership still prevails.

For external consultants who accompany this change, it is therefore particularly important to create a basis of trust. This can be achieved through successful communication on the part of the consultants as well as practical training, in which not only the know-how but also the practical approach is conveyed and its advantages made clear. Intensive training in advance also results in a better understanding of agile work from the outset. Ultimately, however, it is the constantly improving results that provide the best arguments.

Coaching and team building support agile transformation

An important tool for supporting the agile transformation, especially in banks, is coaching, in which old thought patterns can be softened in order to increase acceptance for innovations. This is particularly important because prior knowledge on the topic of agility can vary greatly and individual employees therefore have different attitudes to it. Through group or individual coaching, consultants can also bring employees to a common level.

Since new teams are often created during agile working, team building measures are essential from the beginning to strengthen trust among each other on the one hand and to work together on the new working model on the other. Because agile working works differently in every company and should and must be shaped by the employees. This also means that solutions are developed by consultants together with the employees and the management.

Support from external experts in new roles

If management is involved in the process and also in the training sessions from the very beginning, the risk of a blocking attitude from this direction can be successfully prevented or at least minimised. Conflicts within the team or with the management can be recognised more quickly and can also be solved better.

In addition to good preparation of the team and management, it makes sense to bring in experience in the form of external support, for example as a Scrum Master, in order to introduce the necessary processes and empower the employees to shape the change themselves. Because every change needs time and support. What this looks like varies from case to case, of course.

In conclusion, it can be said that agile transformation can make a lot of sense in the banking environment, especially in IT applications. The prerequisite for this is that the special circumstances in the banking environment are taken into account and that the introduction of new working models and processes is prepared and accompanied accordingly.


Nearshoring in Tunisia: Is it possible?

Nearshoring in Tunis

Six reservations reassessed

A lack of skilled IT staff and lower costs are only two of the reasons why many companies outsource their software development to a nearshoring partner. The choice often falls on Ukraine or Poland. There are still reservations about countries like Tunisia. Are these justified?

Many companies in Europe are now using nearshoring partners to outsource their software development or entire business processes due to the lack of skilled IT staff and high labour costs. The classic choice is Poland, Bulgaria or Ukraine. But locations such as Tunisia are also becoming increasingly important in this context. However, there are still reservations about non-European partners, which can easily be refuted, because nearshoring in Tunisia also offers many advantages.

Quality training and geographical proximity

Quality: In Tunisia, higher education is of high quality and absolutely comparable with Western European countries. 240,000 students graduate from higher education each year, of which 20,000 are engineers and scientists and 9,000 are information and communication technology graduates. Tunisia has more than 50 engineering schools that teach computer science, among other subjects. This guarantees high quality in the implementation of software projects.

Distance: Even though Tunisia is located on another continent, the time difference is a maximum of one hour in summer and a flight takes only a little more than two hours. Thus, in contrast to offshoring in countries like India, it is guaranteed that contact persons are available during European business hours to make arrangements or solve problems.

Multilingualism and stable infrastructure

Communication: Large parts of the Tunisian population speak fluent French, English is taught at school from grade 4 and there are certified as well as professional language institutions for the German language. In the technical professions, French and English can be assumed, and German and Italian are often added. The local distance can be bridged without problems thanks to digital means of communication, which have developed even further during the Corona pandemic. The good telecommunications infrastructure, in which Tunisia is a leader in the southern Mediterranean, also contributes to this.

Mentality: Without question, there are differences between the German and Tunisian mentality. However, companies like think tank Business Solutions now have decades of experience in implementing numerous projects with European partners. A German bridgehead consisting of product owners and IT consultants additionally guarantees that the cooperation with the customers runs smoothly.

Hands-on mentality and cost savings

Management: Managing a project is always challenging, especially when a hybrid, multinational team has to be managed. To ensure the smooth running of a project, an agile working model is a good choice, which has also become popular in Tunisia, especially in the development and implementation of software in companies like think tank. By having German colleagues manage the projects, it is ensured that the customer’s requirements are always in focus. The developers in Tunisia also have a “get the job done” mentality just like their colleagues in other countries and act in a goal-oriented manner.

The best of both worlds

Costs: Tunisia is also a very good alternative in terms of costs. The hourly rates for a Tunisian employee are attractive and competitive. Despite the good quality of the labour market, the average wage costs for a full-time employee, for example, are very low compared to Eastern European countries, making Tunis an attractive North African location for business process outsourcing. It should not be forgotten that with Tunisia we are in a politically stable area, whereas in the Eastern European area there have been tensions and uncertainties in recent times.

Overall, it can be said that Tunisia as a nearshoring partner is a good alternative to the classic Eastern European countries. In combination with a German bridgehead, which can act as a translator not only of culture but also of mentality if necessary, one is relying on the best of both worlds: Availability of skilled labour, cost savings and German know-how and quality.


Success through quality, budget control and time management

Erfolg durch Qualität
In the interview series for our 20th anniversary, Lassaad Ben Jamaa talks about the cooperation with Munich and the success factors for think tank.

Communication decisive criterion

How did the idea of founding think tank Tunis (TTT) come about?

We, Lassaad, Mohamed, Hammouda and Yassine, already thought during our studies in Germany that we would like to give something back to our country, since Tunisia made it possible for us to study in Germany through a scholarship. We also wanted to stay up to date technologically. We also saw how much potential there is in our home country. The education is very good, there are many good graduates and engineers looking for work. That’s why the think tank was founded in Tunisia in 1998. We wanted to transfer the German model here, the discipline, the way of communicating, and since we also wanted to do projects in Germany, we then opened a location in Germany in 2002, which has since become the headquarters and bridgehead to Europe.

You work closely with the Munich office. How does the cooperation work?

We know each other very well, we have also worked together in Germany, so we had a personal level. In principle, it was just a continuation of the cooperation with a different local distribution. What was and is important to us is the mutual respect that characterises our cooperation. In addition, we implemented the same working model at both locations, because of course there are differences in mentality. Germany pays a lot of attention to processes, everyone has their defined tasks. We have adopted this here in Tunis in order to be able to deliver the proverbial German quality. Overall, we see ourselves as a German company with three important values: quality assurance as well as precise time management and strict adherence to the budget.

Decisive for a successful cooperation is, of course, communication and exchange among each other. In the past, we used to communicate a lot on a personal level; there were weekly meetings and frequent trips to Germany. I was present on site at least three to four times a year. In addition, there were and are regular coordination meetings at all levels, be it with the management or the sales team. We are also in constant exchange at the project level. For the daily exchange, we have our dailies to receive all information in time and to guarantee transparency. With time and the development of new technical possibilities, we conduct most meetings online. But still today there are regular visits of staff from Tunis to Germany and vice versa, as the personal level is simply hard to replace in the long run.

How has TTT developed since its founding?

In 1998 we started with one developer, then there were two. The number of employees has grown steadily. At first, we only hired developers. With the expansion of our range of services, it also became necessary to hire specialised staff, starting with product owners, scrum masters, DevOps developers and ending with sales and HR staff.

What do you see as the most important reasons for the successful growth?

The most important is, of course, quality. Then there is our flexibility and availability. We are able to react very quickly to our customers’ requirements. In addition, we have meanwhile built up a great deal of expertise in many areas such as e-government processes or also finance as well as automotive, so that we are not only an IT service provider, but can also contribute our specialist know-how. This allows us to offer everything from a single source, which is often very important, especially in the public sector. In addition, we have proven to be a very reliable partner.

What are TTT's greatest successes?

I am very proud of the well-known clients we have been serving very successfully for years. We are also proud of the fact that we have already won several tenders from African governments, such as the project in Madagascar, which makes it easier for investors to obtain loans. Our reputation is now so good that the Tunisian Trade Registry approached us after the new bidder, who actually won the tender, failed to implement it. We were then still able to complete the project successfully. Our office building, from which our logo is visible from afar as a trademark, is also very important to me as a visible sign of our growth and success.

What are the focal points of your work?

We want to focus on three levels. First, it is important for us to strengthen ourselves internally, to further consolidate structures so that cooperation continues to be successful. To this end, we want to optimise and adapt our processes even more so that we can continue to implement projects on time, with high quality and within budget in accordance with our goals. Our growth also makes it necessary for us to strengthen ourselves in terms of sales in order to build up an even larger sales pipeline. The third factor is that we always want to use the latest technologies, so we are constantly looking at and adapting our portfolio to meet the needs of our customers.

What do you value in your employees? What do you offer in return?

Of course, quality training is very important to us, but it should also be a human fit, they should live our values and be committed. People who are not ambitious will not get anywhere with us. Our employees should love their job, have fun and be passionate about their work and not just see it as a salary provider. In return, we offer a salary in line with the market and try to design the premises so that everyone enjoys coming and can work comfortably. We also offer quiet corners and other relaxation facilities. We try to do more than the standard in terms of team events and training. Our staff register their needs for these and we try to facilitate them when it fits our strategy. For example, there were English classes, as this is extremely important for communication with the Munich location. In principle, you can say that we always try to see the person in the employee.


"Our goal: To grow together with the bompany".

Jihen Koubaa and Sonali Parkash started their professional careers at think tank. In the fourth interview on the occasion of our 20th company anniversary, they talk about their career paths and their experiences of starting a career at tt.

Jihen Koubaa and Sonali Parkash on their career start at tt

think tank is the first "real" employer for both of you. What was it like starting out?

Jihen: I started as a working student in 2012 after studying business administration in Tunisia and attending an eight-month German course.  I started in the media editorial department of a client, but I always had a Master’s degree in mind. However, the tasks at think tank were so varied and interesting that I decided to stay. I was able to try out different areas and activities in several projects with a wide range of colleagues, from software testing and project assistance to project management and IT consulting. For me, this is one of the important advantages of a medium-sized company like think tank: you can discover a lot, a special feature at tt is that you are not tied down and can develop further.

Sona: I started during the Corona period directly after my business informatics studies. At the beginning, I was able to enjoy a bit of office time. Since I had done an internship at BMW, I was able to get directly involved in a project. This allowed me to get to know different roles and perspectives right away and thus acquire or expand my broad professional knowledge. In the process, I also discovered completely new passions. During the Corona period, we all worked remotely, of course, but the team still got along very well. When we saw each other in person after more than a year, it was as if we had known each other forever. It was important for me to have a good mentor by my side who was always there for me personally and professionally. What I liked most about tt was that everything is very informal and the colleagues are understanding. Everything can be handled flexibly in coordination with the client, so I also quickly learned to work freely and independently. I was able to try out new things and was also allowed to implement my own ideas.

What is your development path like? How has think tank supported you and helped you along the way?

Sona: In the beginning, I mainly worked on projects. Now I have a clearly structured development path with annual interviews. However, this path is not fixed, it can also be adapted through short official channels if I justify the changes well and, of course, it they are in the interests of the company. Personally, I don’t want to commit to one role, I want to remain broadly applicable, which is supported by tt. My primary goal is to continue my training as an agile coach, but I would like to remain operationally active. I am supported on my way by my team leader and my mentor. They are always available for questions, and when it comes to specialist topics, I can turn to the experts from the departments.

Jihen: There is always a tandem partner in the areas you work in that you can always ask. The hierarchies are flat and I have worked in various projects and thus acquired a broad range of expertise. I also always had the chance to further my education in training courses and thus take on more tasks. You always get support from the team leader or, earlier, from the division manager and, of course, from the HR department when it comes to further development. Personal preferences are taken into account.

What makes working at think tank special for you?

Jihen: We can express our opinions and they are taken seriously. We treat each other with respect.  The work-life balance is great, there is always understanding, which is very important for me as a mother with a small child. The possibility to work remotely and to arrange my work flexibly in consultation with clients and colleagues gives me a lot of freedom. I also like the fact that you can develop and implement your own ideas. But that requires a lot of initiative.

Sona: The management always accommodates me when it comes to implementing my preferences. The self-organised work gives me the freedom that is important to me. Many colleagues have become friends. That way I have fun at work and can master everything. We also transfer this to the clients. We form a team with the clients and tackle everything together. We take the client by the hand, if necessary, and accompany him from start to finish and don’t leave him out in the cold at any point. It is important, however, that you are also proactive and that you think about and commit to your own development.

You already have experience through internships etc. with other employers. Are there any differences and if so which ones?

Jihen: I have only done internships. At think tank, I have gradually been given more responsibility in line with my individual development. What’s important for me is that I got to know the working cultures in Tunisia and Germany. That way I can sometimes build a bridge and get more involved.

Sona: I got to know the difference between a corporation and a small, medium-sized company. The hierarchies are much flatter, of course. There are also fewer employees. That’s why I don’t feel like a small “cog”. At think tank, I have had more responsibility from the start and my decisions have a greater impact than in a company. In return, I also have more influence and must and may actively participate.

What do you particularly like about your work, in terms of content and personally?

Jihen: I like the fact that I can control my work and make many decisions independently, sometimes I just work as a team member and sometimes I take over the project management for our projects. I also like the fact that I now work as a tandem partner or mentor for new colleagues, that I can pass on the knowledge I have gained and that I learn something new myself at the same time. I also experience a lot of appreciation at think tank; we all meet as equals. I appreciate a lot that we are constantly growing, which offers me new opportunities for further development.

Sona: I like that I have such different activities, that I work together in external and internal teams. The mix of operational and organisational / management topics excites me. My expertise is important and noticed and very much appreciated.

If you could wish for something, what would it be?

Jihen: I miss the on-site appointments. It would be nice if we could visit the client maybe once a quarter. It’s different to feel the atmosphere at the customer’s, it leads to new ideas and more exchange. And that we grow even more, so that I can also grow and take on other tasks.

Sona: I would like the fun to remain in the work. For me, a healthy mix of on-site and remote is important. And I also want to grow with the company.


Kanban vs Scrum? Which method leads to success?

Kanban vs Scrum
The question of which agile method is suitable for which project is not always easy. We try the comparison Kanban vs Srum.

Advantages and disadvantages of agile working methods

Those who decide to work agilely are spoilt for choice when it comes to methods. Kanban, Scrum or Lean Management are just a few of the keywords that are on everyone’s lips. Often, it is Scrum with its precisely timed sprints and user stories that those in charge choose. Whether this decision was the right one sometimes only becomes clear after a long process of trial and error. How can such a mistake be avoided?

Decision criteria for agile development methods

There is no generally valid answer to this, but some criteria can help to make a reorientation in the middle of a work process. The best way to explain this is to use a negative example in the case of a choice between Kanban and Scrum. Because it is also true in agile working that mistakes are the best teachers.

In our case, the client was faced with the challenge of organising a team that worked at different locations and whose participants did not all speak the same language. In other words, the best conditions for agile working. The task was to further develop a product that was in operation. Therefore, the choice of agile method fell on Scrum. With its clearly structured blocks, sprints and firmly outlined requirements described in user stories, this method is very popular in product development.

Adapting the agile approach

In our case, however, exactly what is otherwise an advantage became problematic: the requirements, which were precisely tailored to the team, did fit the mandate to further develop the product. In addition, however, the team had to take over the ongoing operation and support. As a result, critical defects were repeatedly added to the already existing tasks, the processing of which could not wait until the next sprint. The workload of the individual team members increased, as they felt obligated to their commitment to the user stories.

An adjustment of the method became necessary. After careful consideration, the decision was made to implement the task with Kanban. From then on, both the further development and the ongoing operation ran without further problems. But why was the Kanban method better suited than the Scrum method in this case?

Difference Scrum Kanban

It makes sense to look at the fundamental differences in the methodology of the two approaches. On the one hand we have Scrum. Here, precisely specified scopes of work are defined for a certain period of time and the progress is communicated in the daily routine. Here, it is not planned that the requirements change in the course of a sprint or that more are added, which works wonderfully well with a precisely outlined task without “disruptive factors”.

The Kanban method, on the other hand, is primarily about establishing a continuous flow of work. For this purpose, the individual work processes from the idea to the completion of the task are made visible in various so-called status columns. The starting point is usually a collection of prioritised pending issues, which are drawn up by the individual team members themselves. The ingenious thing about this is that only a certain number of tasks may be listed under the individual headings of the tables, i.e. it is not possible to start any number of new tasks before others have been completed.

Advantages of the Kanban method

This leads to tasks being completed, but unlike Scrum, it allows new requirements/ideas to be fed into the process. Of course, prioritisation of tasks and monitoring is necessary so that no “task corpses” are left on the way to completion. The product owner is responsible for monitoring the continuous process to ensure that no tasks are left undone.

Another difference is the focus of the dailies. While Scrum focuses on the team members, Kanban is more about organising the tasks and finding solutions to problems that arise.

More flexibility and faster work flow through Kanban

In our case, it became clear that Kanban had to be the method of choice because it fulfilled two requirements that were necessary for the successful implementation in the client’s sense: it was possible to feed in newly arising problems and, by focusing on the workflow, it guaranteed that both the activities that could be planned in the longer term and those that were newly added were completed.

What we have learned from this is that it is important from the beginning to examine exactly which factors play a role in the completion of a task in order to find the appropriate method. In keeping with the spirit of agility and the fault tolerance implicit in it, the courage is required to revise and reconsider a decision that has already been made if it becomes clear after the application has been launched that one has made a mistake in the choice of method.


Resilient in times of crisis: Adaptive or rather agile?

Resilienz Unternehmen
Companies must be able to react ever faster in the face of crises and rapid, disruptive changes. As with people, resilience plays an increasingly important role in this. But how can they achieve it?

How companies can position themselves for the future

 In a world characterised by crises and rapid changes, the concept of resilience is also gaining more and more importance for companies. But what does resilience mean in this context and how can the concept, which originates in psychology, be transferred to it? If you read up on the subject on the internet, two terms quickly come to mind: Adaptability and innovative learning culture.

Taking external factors into account

From these terms, it is not far to the buzzword agility. For a long time, agile working was seen as the magic bullet for making a company so crisis-proof that it could react adequately to the rapid changes so typical of our times and thus remain fit for the future. In the meantime, this way of working has lost its nimbus of being a universal remedy. What remains, however, is the need to adapt quickly to new circumstances in order to be resilient. But how can this best be achieved? This is where the topic of adaptive organisation comes into play. A one-sided perspective from which an agile way of working is introduced usually does not lead to the desired improvement. Instead, in the sense of systemic thinking, all systems, internal complexity as well as external circumstances such as competitors, market changes, wars must be considered and taken into account.

Resilient through a change of perspective

The decisive factor is therefore a change of perspective to the meta-level, i.e. a view from the outside of the company and its influencing factors. From this changed perspective, other possibilities arise and potential for improvement becomes visible. However, it is a fallacy that this potential can only ever be exploited by introducing an agile way of working. It is important to find the right means for your own organisation.  Because just because a method such as design thinking was the perfect solution approach for a topic, this does not mean that this approach will be the means of choice the next time. If we return to the initial question, it can be said that agile and adaptive are not mutually exclusive; rather, agility is a building block for creating an adaptive organisation.

However, the change from a classic or agile to an adaptive organisation can only succeed if it takes into account not only the external but also the human factors such as corporate culture, communication and the employees.

Balance between structure and flexibility

It is important to develop a balance between structures and flexibility. This is the only way to create a protected framework in which new creative spaces can open up and solutions can be found. In this way, a company can change sustainably and, in the spirit of resilience, protect itself against external influences. This process is never complete. Only when an organisation continues to develop is it protected in the long term against the disruptive influences of the outside world.

The conclusion to be drawn from the question of agile or adaptive is therefore that agility is usually part of an adaptive organisation, but its methods alone are not always sufficient; companies must always keep the big picture in mind when making adjustments and changes.


"Compatibility of family and work"

Vereinbarkeit Familie und Beruf
In our series of interviews on the occasion of our 20th anniversary, we are talking today to Cornela Kapl, who has helped shape the development of our company from the very beginning.

Cornelia Kapl, team leader talks about the focus of her work

What are your most important career steps at think tank?

I started in 2003 as a project manager. Later, I was involved in various IT projects on site with clients and managed software development projects in the area of banking software, including testing and support. When we expanded our range of services, I also worked as a security consultant. Since 2006, I have also been a member of the company’s supervisory board. One of the most important steps for me personally, however, was the start of my work as a team leader in 2019. Initially, I was responsible for five employees, but now there are 15. The special thing about this job is that I can actively help shape the working environment of the employees and promote the compatibility of family and career. As a mother of two children, this topic is also important to me personally. I really appreciate that at think tank you can develop professionally even if you work part-time.

You've been with the same company for almost 20 years. What is the most exciting thing about your work?

Overall, I’ve always had very interesting tasks that have changed over time. I particularly value working on and with people. In the beginning, we were a start-up and of course did a lot ourselves internally, for example marketing, accounting, office management. Gradually, we were able to create jobs for the different tasks. When I look back on my career, I see that I have virtually grown with the company and also helped to shape it, which gives me a good feeling. And today, like all the other employees, I can help shape the face of think tank, because a company can only grow through its employees.

What do you see as the milestones in the history of the company?

Professionally, it is certainly the expansion from the core business of software development via IT consulting to information security consulting. The development of our own sales department, which gave us access to two large car manufacturers, was a major milestone. At that time, our third pillar, IT security, was added.

The move from Freystraße to Messerschmittstraße to more representative premises was also important. With this move, we finally left the image of the “small clit” behind us. By gaining a large real estate platform as a partner, we have further expanded our image as a reliable partner. We have built up a relationship of trust as a constant external partner and now work with 4 project owners and 18 developers together on better solutions with the client.

What makes think tank different for you?

We differ from other companies in that we pay a lot of attention to our employees. We take individual needs into consideration, employees can actively contribute. Our board members work on projects themselves, so we don’t lead from the top down, but at eye level. Everyone who works at think tank can help shape the company, every opinion is heard. You can contribute right from the start, even as an intern or junior, everyone is equal.

The development from classic to self-organisation in 2018/2019 has further strengthened these processes. We see ourselves as a self-learning organisation in which more competences and responsibilities are assigned to the employees.

We also work agilely internally on many topics, for example, we have introduced OKR as a framework for modern management and thus involve all employees in important strategic topics. The development is far from complete, our organisation is in a state of flux and this year we would like to strengthen self-organisation even further.

How do you see the future for think tank? What is important?

We are currently in the process of focusing and positioning ourselves better, making our portfolio even clearer for our clients. Our great strength is that we are very reliable and flexible. Once we have won over a client, this often develops into a long-term partnership. In addition, we know our clients’ pains and can react flexibly to them. We have succeeded in making our working methods hybrid. Our employees can work flexibly from home as well as in the office. We make up for the lack of office communication with daily joint meetings in the morning and virtual coffee chats and other joint appointments.

What are your personal goals for the next few years?

For me, the compatibility of family and career and the creation of an optimal work-life balance remains a topic close to my heart. Many of our employees work part-time without any disadvantages or being put on the sidelines, which is often the case at other companies. In addition, I would like to further my own education in order to be able to master the challenges of digital work in the future.


Neuauflage ISO 27001 kommt

Iso 27001 neu
The ISO 27001 standard is adapted and receives some additions. What you need to consider when introducing an information security management system (ISMS) or during a new certification or re-certification.

What changes and what to consider

The ISO/IEC 27001 standard is not only getting a refresh and restructuring, there are also some changes to be aware of. However, all those who are already certified still have time to adjust to the changes, because the release of the new standard is not planned until the end of the year. After that, a transition period of three years is expected to apply. However, anyone planning an initial certification or introduction of an ISMS (information security management system) should do so on the basis of the updated guide, ISO 27002. This is because it has already been published since February 2022 and offers a good basis for implementation.

New title and restructuring of ISO/IEC 27002

The title of ISO 27002 is already new: From now on, it is Information Security, Cybersecurity and Data Protection – Information Security Measure. This is the standard’s reaction to the new challenges that companies are facing in the context of data security. While the old version still had fourteen subject areas and 35 measure objectives, these are now divided into the four main areas of Organisational Measures, Measures in Connection with People, Physical Measures and Technical Measures. This is to ensure better readability. In addition, the number of controls has changed from 114 to 93. This change is due to the fact that some controls have been combined. However, the new version of ISO 27002 does not contain fewer required measures, but eleven controls have been added.

Innovations and necessary steps for ISMS certification

New controls include web filtering, data masking, physical security monitoring and information deletion. But what does this mean for the re-certification or new certification of an ISMS? Especially some of the new controls, such as physical security monitoring, where it must be ensured that it is clear at all times who was in the company’s premises and when, could pose new challenges for smaller companies. How big the effort for the changeover is certainly depends as much on the size of the company as on its structures. This can only be determined after a close look at existing measures. What is certain, however, is that companies should already start analysing the gap between the existing ISMS and the one required by the new standard. Those planning an initial certification according to ISO 27001 should immediately work on the basis of the new regulations in order to avoid having to adapt existing, newly implemented processes and documentation.

"My vision: creating innovations for people"

Mensch im MIttelpunkt
"For me, the focus is on people." This is what Mohamed Chergui, one of the founders of think tank Business Solutions AG, says. As the IT and business counselling company celebrates its 20th anniversary, he talks about his goals and greatest successes in an interview.

think tank founder Mohamed Chergui in an interview

When did you first think about founding your own company?

The idea came to me during my student days in Germany. At that time, a fellow student and I updated all the programmes on a company’s computers at night by going from computer to computer with a CD. That was good for earning money, of course, but we also thought about how we could do it better. That’s when we came up with the idea of networking the world together to help people do their work. That made the direction I wanted to go in clear: new technologies and IT. My diploma thesis was about how to install software once, deploy it and then use it indefinitely.

You were offered a job at a consulting firm, but you preferred to become self-employed. Why?

I wanted to realise my own ideas and work innovatively right from the start. It was also important for me to combine the two worlds of Tunisia and Germany in order to create a synergy from the different mentalities. Initially, I and my colleagues started in Tunisia and worked with partners in Germany. We first wanted to take time to strengthen the bridge to Germany and adapt the structures in both countries, and then scale the business with the resources in Tunisia. It became clear that it is important to establish a presence in Germany as a window to Europe. Think tank Business Solutions AG was then founded in December 2002.

What were the first years like?

In the first few years we were often something like the fire brigade. We were deployed wherever there was a fire, because we were set up from the beginning to be able to react quickly. In addition, we have always relied on the latest technologies. This is how we were able to convince customers like Osram and BMW of our merits and can now look back on almost 20 years of successful cooperation. Our first projects were, for example, the optimisation of the filling of ATMs as well as the reduction of returns of the Springer publishing house from 1,000,000 to 150,000 to 200,000 within one month with the help of AI.

What were tt's biggest successes in terms of innovation?

We developed an automatic news dispatcher for dpa. This was based on the first use of an XML database with keywording in Germany and was developed as part of a diploma thesis. Even today, many good ideas are generated in this way, as we still supervise three to four diploma students a year in Tunis.

We developed the first online grocery delivery service for Karstadt. However, we were ahead of time and it was not accepted by the customers. It was important for us to be able to expand our expertise in web applications. At Osram, we implemented the first digital asset management for video and image management back in 2002, which we still maintain. In the health sector, we helped to develop the health card.

To date, we also have a wealth of experience in banking finance, ranging from online transaction processing to risk analysis regarding money laundering. We have been supporting PlanetHome as a full-service provider in the field of real estate since 2011, and together we are developing a platform on which both real estate agents and prospective buyers can take care of everything related to the purchase of a house or flat.

In the automotive industry, we are broadly positioned, from the development of an electronic calculation model to the conception and implementation of a tool for testing car parts to collaboration on an application for agile process planning.

You mention the topic of agile here. For some years now, the think tank has been increasingly focusing on agility. What is agility for you?

Developing something is very difficult because you have to react quickly. We realised pretty soon that we had to coordinate at short intervals. To do this, we set ourselves internal deliveries every week, which were reviewed by the quality assurance team the following week. So basically we were already working agile there without calling it that. The change to an agile organisation was therefore only the logical step for me on the path of digitalisation, which we have been following for a long time.

How do you see yourself as a boss?

For me, it is important to have connections, to work with people. The basic prerequisite for this is trust. I trust my team and let them decide a lot for themselves, because teamwork is very important to me. I don’t like prohibitions and I believe in flat hierarchies. The worst thing for me is when I influence someone to change. Everyone should be able to develop as they wish. First of all, there is no “must” with me, you can talk and discuss about everything.

What do you see in the staff?

Every person is special and the most important thing for me is that I perceive and value everyone as a person. I find it’s best to let people run themselves. That way I can learn from their experiences and their knowledge. Because everyone is innovative and can contribute in this way. That way, everyone benefits and a sense of “we” can develop. For me, think tank is much more than just a job; my employees are like a family to me.

What is your personal vision for the future?

I would like think tank to continue to establish itself as a think tank and contribute to simplifying people’s lives, bringing people closer together with the technologies that are available to us.